Sewing all the way to success

2017-05-04 06:01
Xolani Magadla and Mawande Mbawuli from Old Crossroads are turning heads with their designs.

Xolani Magadla and Mawande Mbawuli from Old Crossroads are turning heads with their designs.

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A duo of young designers from Nyanga are proving that perceptions aren’t always a depiction of reality.

Mawande Mbawuli and Xolani Magadla, both 27-year olds from Old Crossroads are two designers who stole the show at the Xperience Fashion Show held in Kenilworth over the weekend.

This was the second time that they wowed the judges and received a standing ovation for their cutting designs.

They have proved that one can cheat the entrapments of poverty and cut out a living.

Nyanga is an area notorious for its high murder rate in the country, what with the added scourges of crime, violence and drugs their neighbourhood is often associated with.

They also doing their utmost to disprove embedded perceptions that fashion designers are necessarily homosexuals; they just want to make clothes.

They started their fashion label XM Creations in 2012 after years of interest in the fashion industry but fearing to take the plunge.

“I have always liked fashion and clothes but because of that old stereotype that you are gay if you sew clothes, I shied away.

My love for clothing and textile was rekindled when I met Xolani and we decided to start the venture,” said Mbawuli.

Magadla also a resident in Crossroads said that his mother was a seamstress and this candled his interest in clothing.

“But my mother wouldn’t let children play with her beloved sewing machine, so I decided to go to school to learn sewing,” he said.

He and Mbawuli went to study sewing at Learn to Earn in Khayelitsha to get the basics before starting their own business.

“After that we started buying clothes from street sellers, took them apart and restyled them. We were learning about clothing design and even started with school tracksuits which were quite easy to make.

In 2014 when we were finally confident in our design skills, we started approaching matriculants in order to design their matric outfits,” said Mbawuli.

He said that this soon led to more clients knocking on their door as a result of a word of mouth campaign.

They were now operating a fully fledged design house from Mbawuli’s RDP home.

However this attracted unwanted attention from local rogues.

“Unfortunately when people see that you are busy with something they always assume that you have lots of money...We were robbed in our own home and had to beef security by installing burglar gates,” he recalls.

However, this did not dampen their spirits, as they continued to make a fashion statements with their designs.

Magadla said that it was overwhelming to see people appreciate their work and that they will continue to make clothes despite challenges.

“There many challenges such as working in craped spaces, sometimes clients are scared of coming to our area for fittings, fearing crime. We often have to go to town to do fittings so our immediate plan is to get a working space that is accessible,” he said.

Nevertheless, some people do come in for alterations and the models they use are from the area.

“Our greatest joy is taking locals, so its not just us who benefit, but others from the neighbourhood,” said Mbawuli.

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